No Togas Allowed (Scary Halloween Workplace Etiquette)

PAN Media

October 31, 2012

This post is courtesy of Claire Suddath and originally appeared in Businessweek.com.

I’m bad at Halloween. Every year, I come up with elaborate costume ideas. (David Bowie from Labyrinth! The fawn creature from Pan’s Labyrinth! An actual labyrinth!) But then, I’m crippled by a combination of laziness and poor craft skills, and I never follow through with them.

Instead, I’ll walk into a costume store two days before Halloween, spend $80 on scratchy, synthetic fabric sewn into a lopsided Abraham Lincoln outfit, and wear that instead. When I try it on at home, I’ll realize I’ve grabbed the wrong costume. This is Babe-raham Lincoln. I definitely can’t wear this to work.

Halloween work parties are sort of like family gatherings: They’re just one slutty outfit or mildly offensive ethnic stereotype away from stifling awkwardness. “They’re so lame, I never want to dress up for them,” says Drew Zandonella-Stannard, who used to work at the Hartman Group marketing agency in Bellevue, Wash., a company that’s very big on Halloween. “We’d have a big party at lunchtime and that was a lot of fun, but then the rest of the day you had to sit at your desk wearing your costume, and it was really weird.”

Zandonella-Stannard and her co-workers solved this problem by dressing up as Mad Men characters. “We fit right in, we just looked like we were exceptionally dressed-up that day.” Her boyfriend, who also works at Hartman, learned about work-appropriate costumes the hard way: He wore a toga to the office. And of course, it unraveled. “That year was the year he decided he didn’t want to dress up any more,” Zandonella-Stannard says.

O.K., so togas are out of the question. And you should probably steer clear of anything that satirizes your company or industry. As the now-defunct law firm, Steven J. Baum, learned last year, if you represent banks and mortgage lenders that foreclose on people’s homes, it’s probably not wise to dress up as homeless people carrying cardboard placards.

Continue reading at Businessweek.com...

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